3 Things That Will Impact Online-to-Offline Conversion

social local mobileThe term online-to-offline has only recently surfaced as a buzz term in the last few years but has been a reality of local business for a long time.  Since the early days of online search engines people have adopted online to offline behaviors even when we didn’t call it so; I search for a restaurant on Google, I get a result, I visit the restaurant and I transact with the business, a typical online-offline scenario.

Fast forward to the present and online-to-offline gets much more interesting, driven primarily by mobile, big data and social.

Online-to-Offline and Mobile

Using the purchase funnel as a foundational premise (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Loyalty and Advocacy), consumers now have the ability to search and discover anywhere and anytime.  The immediacy of “I feel like” or “I really want” is instantaneously resolved by a collection of results that graphically illustrate nearby places, sorted by ratings and price, in a matter of a few clicks.

Fast forward into the very near future and all that will stand between desire and fulfillment; “I want the best espresso in a one block radius” to “I am drinking the best espresso in a one block radius” will be the swipe of a mobile phone, followed by a digital receipt, a digital incentive to come back and a request to share your experience with your social network .

Online-to-Offline and Big Data

The premise of big data is the notion that mobile and social are creating huge amounts of data that need to be analyzed and organized into meaningful collections of information that can be put into context and applied as knowledge.  Take the espresso example once again: The search for places near me that serve espresso is much more interesting when we look at what is happening behind the scenes:

  • By searching for espresso I am making it explicit what my intention is, and the immediacy can be inferred – I want one now
  • My location is used to provide me with places that are near me – geolocation
  • My search keyword should be cross-referenced against organized information to provide more meaningful results – i.e. does the search understand that espresso is a type of coffee and and returns all places that are connected to the term coffee
  • My previous transactions could be used to help sort by relevancy – I prefer boutique/mom & pop vs. chains/franchises
  • My social network could be tapped to find friends that have recommended espresso nearby via a review
  • My social network may be queried to find friends that are nearby and have checked-in to a place that serves espresso, and the frequency with which they go there
  • Merchants could be “alerted” that someone nearby is searching for an espresso
  • Results could be presented based on active campaigns, deals and loyalty

Online-to-Offline and Social

The power of social has the potential to trump many traditional models that determine relevancy.  While ratings and reviews could be deemed as the first evolution of digital social relevancy, the future of using social as a means to drive transactions has greater possibilities.

The social graph is an intricate and complicated set of models that illustrates how people are related to each other based on a set of static and dynamic variables.  Understanding how people are connected to each other and how they relate via similar interests, backgrounds, etc… including the credibility they may have on a set of particular topics or categories has a very wide range of implications for local.

Succinctly…

Social influencers can change depending on the  local context, and understanding those relationships will be key.

Being the mayor of a venue does not give you credibility, but visiting a dozen’s café’s within a 3 mile radius in the last 3 weeks – gives you experience that I value and could use to make a purchasing decision.  Attributing that recommendation after a transaction would also help connect individuals and create local groups that are linked based on interests, location, and now, local businesses.

Combining local, mobile and social into an intricate formula using real-time data, information and knowledge is the future!

One Response to “3 Things That Will Impact Online-to-Offline Conversion”

  1. […] in big data, mobile and social are giving rise to a battle that technology and service providers will wage in helping SMB’s […]

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